This is an Estes 2003 Level 2 kit. It is very similar to the Estes Polaris but with different fin alignment. The kit uses Parachute recovery.
The kit contains:
Construction starts with the motor mount (like most Estes kits). The small fins that edge up to the bottom of the main BT are glued on next. Give yourself plenty of time for those to dry before tackling the step of gluing the larger fins so that all fins line up properly. While those are drying, move on to assembling the nose cone, upper BT, adapter & fins. Instructions suggest rounding the edges of the fins on the upper BT after gluing them on. Do it before you glue instead! It is much easier & there is less risk of damage to the fins.
Attaching the shock cord & parachute are the final steps before painting (although I prefer to do these steps in reverse order).
I considered an attempt at emulating the paint job on the packaging but I am still coming up to speed as an enthusiast who has been out of the loop for almost 20 years. Instead I went with a simple white Nose Cone / black BT scheme. The instructions don't mention this but I recommend sanding the main BT with some 400 grit paper before priming. Also, if you paint this a light color on the Nose Cone section, use a white primer so you get a consistent shade. I finally applied the self-adhesive decals (which I trimmed slightly on one end so they would butt up evenly against the edge of the BT) & finished with a clearcoat.
Construction Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommended motors for this rocket are the A8-3 B4-4 B6-4 (first flight) C6-5.
Three or four pieces of recovery wadding along with the chute fit very easily and quickly inside the BT. Make sure that top fins are aligned with the main body fins before launch. With the large BT, you do not have to fold & wind up the parachute tightly to get it to fit inside.
I flew the rocket twice. After reading reviews of the Estes Polaris, I had the impression that an A8-3 wouldn't be enough to push a rocket with such a large diameter main BT & nine fins.
First flight was on a B6-4. Very straight trajectory even into a slight wind. Picture perfect & excellent height.
Second flight was with a C6-5. Again it had excellent trajectory with considerably greater height and speed.
On both flights the ejection charge fired at apogee and the parachute opened flawlessly. The 12" chute allows for safe but rapid descent close to the launch site even on windy days (minimal drift).
Consider replacing the plastic chute with a mylar one. Make sure to use 4 pieces of wadding or you will quickly shorten the lifespan of your shockcord as well.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
I had high hopes for this design when building it and I was not disappointed. The Guardian is going to be one of the highlights in my personal fleet as long as it continues its high flights and great recoveries.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5